Bob Merrigan

Acquire new donors. It's a directive that every fundraiser has heard, especially in the recent era of financial instability for nonprofit organizations and donors alike. So, which direction to go with that directive? Bob Merrigan and Michael Rooney answer some relevant questions from direct mail fundraisers.

With the economic downturn, the green discussion seems to be somewhat muted. Not "Silent Spring"-like, but certainly palpable and, frankly, disturbing given the severity of global warming and other signs of environmental degradation. Similarly, just when so-called "green mail"—recycled envelopes, soy inks, green seals, environmental messaging, etc.—was building momentum, the economy tanked and seemingly took the green gang with it.

Ever since the economy hit a major road bump more than a year ago, investment from most companies in its direct mail similarly has slowed. Meanwhile, new, cheaper channel players like e-mail, social media and mobile marketing are hogging the funds and growing in popularity.

For 20 years, Harvesters - The Community Food Network has been fighting hunger in the Kansas City, Mo., area. And for the past year or two, it's been facing the challenge that nags at all nonprofits: how to maximize donor relationships for better performance. The food bank's database of 40,000 individual donors and 8,000 corporate donors has been built mainly through direct mail efforts but also represents a chunk of the organization's many volunteers and event participants. Just how deep that connection ran was something Harvesters needed to find out to better structure its donor relationship program.

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